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tv   [untitled]    February 28, 2012 2:00am-2:30am EST

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and later, the launch of the ten-year campaign to double the number of women in congress. louisiana governor bobby jindal is revealing his proposal for the fiscal budget. a budget of $900 million in the red. in shreveport, it is mostly cloudy and 37 degrees at the airport. 38 in menden. you are listening to shreveport
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radio. >> explore the history of she shreveport, louisiana. then gary joiner on his "one damn" book. then the book collection at the shreveport archives. then on american history tv on c-span 3, sunday at 5:00 p.m. from barksdale air force base. then a history of the b-52 bomber. then the autograph selection. then medical treatment and sa medicine in the civil war. this weekend on c-span 2 and
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c-span 3. verging group chairman richard branson and the former president of switzerland testified before the british affairs committee on the international drug policy. both witnesses serve on the 19-person commission on global policy recommend that you treat drug abuse as a health issue and not a crime. this is about 50 minutes. >> could i call the committee to order and invite our two witnesses to come to the table? could i ask members of the committee to declare any additional interests which are about the register of members interests? >> i'm vice chair of the parliamentary group of the report. thank you. >> i'm with the lead community with drugs and alcohol report.
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>> thank you. sir richard, federal counselor, thank you very much for coming before us today. this is the committee's first session in our major inquiry into drugs. the last time the committee considered this question was ten years ago. in fact, i think only mr. winnick is the survivor of the last report. we made a number of recommendations, not all of which were accepted by the government then or have been accepted now. we will be looking again at those recommendations and looking at the development of drug policy over the last ten years. as we all know the number of people who use drugs has increased enormously. therefore, the work of the commission is of great interest to us. sir richard, in your article in the "daily telegraph" yesterday,
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you said the war on drugs had been lost and basically that policy makers all over the world had spent $1 trillion on fighting this war to no effect. why did you say that? >> we wondered if we could have 30 seconds to open up, if that's possible? >> yes. >> first, i would like to thank you and members of the committee for inviting ruth and myself to give evidence on the findings of the global commission on drug policy. we understand this is the first hearing for ten years. we welcome the opportunity to give evidence and answer questions. the committee worked over the last 50 years of the drug control system. we found that it has totally failed to stop the growth of the drug trade. the commission proposed a few principles to deal with drugs.
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the policy should be based on scientific evidence and imperial data. it should focus on the rights of citizens and protecting public health to stop unnecessary suffering. third, government should take a flexible approach to coordination. governments around the world have recognized the waste of the human toll of our existing approach. there are models to look at such as switzerland and germany and netherlands and portugal where decriminalization ten years ago has led to a large reduction in heroin use and other drug use and massive drops in property crimes and hiv infections and violence. i hope we can start a new debate around drug policy. we look forward to discussing this with you today. we need to reduce the crime, health and social problems associated with drug markets in what ever way it is effected. i would ask ruth to say a couple of words.
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>> thank you. >> if could you be brief. we will ask you a lot of questions. you were for ten years the chairman of our communicate comm committee. >> i can give evidence and from my experience and as a member of the global commission. mr. chairman, i was the director for the drug policy in switzerland. we introduced a change in the law and introduced measures and treatments. i think i can give you some evidence you want to hear. >> that's why you are here. both you and sir richard to answer questions. members will have questions. going back to my initial question. why was it lost? bearing in mind, the commission
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had five ex-presidents. a secretary j-general of the united nations. your fellow commissioners were in charge of the policy. you are saying it failed. why did it fail? >> i think that most of these presidents who are now on the commission feel that they made the wrong decisions when they were actually in power and in a position to do something about it. that's why they decided to become members of the commission. i think ruth is one of the few exceptions to that because she actually did do a lot in switzerland which made a big difference in switzerland. most commissions feel they made the wrong choices in trying to effectively do to drugs what was done to alcohol for 20 years in america. try to deal with it as a criminal problem rather than a health problem. and, what the commission did was
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it looked at portugal and switzerland and other countries and realized that there were better ways. portugal -- >> speaking of portugal and thank you for raising portugal. it is different from the united kingdom. consumption of drugs in europe, the three biggest countries, the united kingdom, france and italy. portugal and switzerland are small countries. when you went over, did you see a decrease in drug use? increase or decrease? >> a decrease. first of all, yes, portugal is a smaller country than britain. if you break britain up into smaller units and tackle it in a city by city, there is no reason why you shouldn't get the same results as in portugal. what portugal was ten years ago they had a massive drug problem. heroin was rampant and they
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decided to move drugs from the department of -- from the home office to the health department. and they said to the health department, you are now in charge. nobody will be sent to prison in portugal. not one person has been sent to prison for taking drugs in the last ten years in prison. and they then -- you know, have taken heroin. they set up places where people can get clean needles throughout portugal. they have helped people who have heroin problems get off heroin. the amount of people taking heroin has dropped by 50%. >> federal counselor, you're a politician. the message that goes out if you decriminalize, even to a country like switzerland is pretty stark. doesn't it send the wrong message to the country if you decriminalize it says you can use the words can? >> no.
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if you say it's a public health problem, you have to cure people who are ill, who are dependent of a drug. i think it's a strong message than if you criminalize them. i am sure also that people there are those we want to avoid them they don't want to be considered as ill people. they want to have -- they want to experience something at the margin that's allowed. when you medicalize it, it is exactly the thing that can avoid them to enter in that. so we had no -- no increase in the consumption in switzerland in introducing the new policy and i think the main problem is that we are confronted with criminal organization changing
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the substance, bringing new things, new kicks if i may use that word and this is a problem. >> finally for me, i didn't really see in the papers this morning, new sentencing guidelines have been proposed where there is going to be more leniency to those who are regarded as mules who carry drugs. even unwittingly. and in effect tougher sentences on those who deal in drugs. is that something that you would support, those who are caught in the middle of this, trade, a retail trade which is worth 322 billion pounds in the united states. that they should be treated more leniently than those who are organized criminals and involved in this? sir richard? >> yeah, i mean, the commission has asked countries to experiment with different scenarios in what they have done in the past. and they have -- the commission
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has said that they feel that mules should be treated more leniently than, you know, the people behind the -- you know, the behind the mules who often resort to violence and major criminal activities and they should be -- they should come down hard on those people. i think for the courts to decide that fines are more appropriate than prison sentences i suspect, you know, how the members of the commissioner -- >> yes, i think you have to have punishments being proportional and being efficient. and i think you have to have different kind of -- for different type of crime and use and treat these is not the aim we have really to put on our means on, but to decriminalize the organization. we have to pursue that.
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>> firstly, you referred to that aspect of the policy as did the sentencing counsel. sentencing counsel said nothing about what works in terms of reducing supply. do you have any comment on that? >> i didn't exactly catch your question. can you -- >> the question that i believe is very important in dealing with what level of sense tense should be is what works in terms of reducing whatever the nuisance is that you're seeking to address. >> yeah. >> do you have anything to say on the effectiveness of sentencing? >> yes. i think we have really to look which kind of sentence -- what are the harms of such sentences. for instance -- >> that's a different issue with respect. i was just asking specifically about what works in terms of reducing supply. if you don't have any evidence -- >> yes, i would say -- i mean, the question of the supply is
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for -- i'll explain terribly simply. you take somebody from the street, a street dealer and the day after you have another man standing at the same place. >> the other thing is that, sir richard, in what a succinct summary at the beginning and i congratulate you on that, they're usually much longer, you ran over a number of countries where you said decriminalization had been tried and you said have been effective. you referred to holland which is very often cited as an example. i liked at the situation of holland some years ago. in fact, they didn't decriminalize drug use. what they did was introduce a policy on policing and enforcement which is a policy of tolerance as long as things weren't getting out of hand. and they moved away from that approach as a result of the impact of drug tourism on their
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cities. so why do you cite as an example of success? >> the decriminalization was referring to portugal. and in portugal, it's the one country that's decriminalized all drugs and so not one person has gone to prison in the last ten years. and that has saved the country a lot of money and prison costs. >> you weren't drilling a similar parallel to holland? >> no. >> may i add something? >> briefly. >> yeah. >> because we want to cover the issues. >> i mean, it was just reduced in order not to have a conflict with neighbor countries. but for their own population, netherlands continues to have the same policy. because they think that this policy is really using the deal and harm of having opening deal


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